Robert Kubica Q&A: Weve a lot of ground to make up 08 May 2009
BMW Saubers Robert Kubica is a very focused and ambitious man. And so starting the European leg of the season without a single point must be frustrating for him, especially when he remembers that this time last year he was leading the championship. But Kubica seems to be taking his change in fortune with a sense of humour, remaining optimistic that better times will return
Q: Robert, how are you feeling about the car this weekend?
Robert Kubica: We have quite a significant upgrade for this weekend. Finally something that should give us quite a lot of advantage on the downforce side, so we will have more grip. But we have to see how big the step will be compared to the others. I hope, personally, that it will be bigger than the others' improvement or we will stay in the same position, but we'll see. All the information and simulation data is giving quite big numbers - at least half a second. But as I said, we have to see how it feels because we are quite far away from the top, so we have to make double the number of steps of the others. It will be interesting to see the situation on Friday and in qualifying on Saturday.
Q: You said that you are half a second away from the top. Can this be made up this weekend?
RK: For sure we need at least two steps of improvement, if the others stay at the same level, because the gap lately was nearly one second, or even more. So we need at least one second if the others stay at the same level, but we assume the others will improve. Also the teams who were behind at the start of the season, like Ferrari and McLaren, are already in front. We have to move forward, keep working. I think we have to have a bit more time as well - to see and analyse which direction we are going - and try to deliver more steps in the future
Q: If there is no major step forward in the next couple of races does that mean that you have to bury your title hopes for this season?
RK: One thing is to win a race, which we saw might have happened - even when we were quite far back at the start of the season. We've seen that happen in the past for some teams. Another thing is to win the championship. Last year after seven races we were leading the drivers' championship, and we were coming to Barcelona as constructors' championship leader. This year is completely opposite, so for sure for the championship will be difficult. It's already difficult now! First of all I think we have to concentrate on more improvements. Then we will adapt our targets to our situation. In the end the target is always the same from a drivers point of view - to extract the maximum from the car and try to do the best job possible. Then you have to adapt to the situation.
Q: Will BMW Sauber run a double diffuser here in Barcelona? If not, could it be that you are the only team not running it?
RK: I don't know about the others. You say we're the only ones. There is nothing to add. We don't have a double diffuser ready. So I think the target is to bring it to the Istanbul race, so in two races time. Then we will be ready to extract 100 percent of the potential of the double diffuser.
Q: At what stage did you realize that this would be a difficult season for you?
RK: I think going into the first race we knew that at least three teams were quicker than us and that was more or less the situation. At the beginning of testing we saw Toyota were very strong and Williams and the other teams as well. There wasnt Brawn yet, but we saw that they were very strong. But in the past it happened that some teams were running lower fuel, but it looks like everybody was running quite heavy through all the winter. It was not only us, like one year earlier when we were running heavier than everyone else, so once we went to Australia we were nearer the front than everyone was expecting. Last winter it looks like everyone took a similar approach. We were hoping that the situation might repeat from last year. It was clear before going to Australia that Brawn were very strong and there were some other very competitive teams. So it was not a surprise that we struggled.
Q: Would the car be more competitive had it not been designed around KERS?
RK: I don't know. I don't have enough data, information and knowledge to answer this question. I think KERS from the system side is clearly an advantage. If you can fit the KERS without compromising the car or the aerodynamics it's clearly an advantage. Every team evaluates the weight of the KERS, the advantages and disadvantages and they'll go in one direction. That is what happened with us and with Brawn and the other teams. I don't have enough information to know if Brawn or Red Bull can fit KERS as well. I don't have enough knowledge or data to say which route would be the best.
Q: So far you have no points but could have won in Australia. How frustrating is that for you?
RK: Not really. But I think only now can someone really realize what I did in Australia. I think people who were there looking at my performance in the race didn't have a clear picture of the potential of the car or where we were. I think most people thought the car was able to win races. In Australia we had a competitive car but not one to win races. We were lucky because of the safety car and we were in better shape with the tyre strategy because I had already run the soft tyres so there were many circumstances which were to my advantage during the race. I also think that I had a very good performance through the weekend in Australia. Normally after the race I don't really think about what happened, but I was disappointed because I felt I lost many points and important points because points might be difficult to get in the future. But this is racing. It was the first race of the season and that's it. Now we are here in Barcelona and we have to think about what's coming next, not what happened two months ago.
Q: No doubt BMW Sauber are struggling to be competitive. When you lost the momentum in the second half of last season you pinned your hopes on 2009
RK: For sure the situation would be much easier if we had much more improvement last year and the beginning of this year. But the situation has been different. The reality is that last year we were struggling to deliver aerodynamic parts that worked on the car. This year the team decided to go in a direction that clearly didn't work out as a development in the first races. But this is out of my control. We have to cope with this, and we have to try and improve it.